Huskers Close Fall Campaign in Hawaii
The Nebraska women’s golf team puts an exciting end to its fall season by competing at the Rainbow Wahine Invitational in Hawaii, Oct. 30-31.
The University of Hawaii plays host to a 12-team field that is also expected to include 10 individuals competing outside team lineups on the par-72, 6,128-yard layout of the Kapolei Golf Course on the island of Oahu.
Play begins Tuesday with two rounds and a shotgun start at 1 p.m. (CT). The two-day tournament concludes with Wednesday’s final round with another shotgun start at 1 p.m. (CT). Live scoring for the tournament will be available at GolfStat.com.
Kate Smith leads the Huskers to Hawaii after a strong showing at the UNLV Collegiate Showdown, Oct. 21-23. The junior from Detroit Lakes, Minn., tied for eighth place in a 90-player tournament field with a six-under-par individual total of 210 (71-68-71) over 54 holes. It marked the 11th top-10 finish and 16th top-25 showing of her career.
Sophomore Noor Ahmed (Folsom, Calif.) added one of the best efforts of her career with a three-round total of 217 (+1). Ahmed shot solid rounds of 72-73-72 to close in a tie for 27th as Nebraska’s No. 2 finisher.
Nebraska produced a 10th-place finish in a solid 17-team field with a season-best three-round team total of 875. The Huskers improved their team season stroke average to 298.42. The trip to Hawaii will be Nebraska’s first as a team since the spring of 2016, when the Huskers competed in the Dr. Donnis Thompson Invitational. The only current Husker who was on that team is junior Haley Thiele, who led NU with a tie for 31st (72-78-76-226) as a true freshman.
Rainbow Wahine Invitational
Location: Kapolei, Oahu, Hawaii
Kapolei Golf Course (Par 72, 6,128 Yards)
Host: University of Hawaii
Tuesday, Oct. 30, 1 p.m. (CT) - Shotgun, two rounds
Wednesday, Oct. 31, 1 p.m. (CT) - Shotgun, final round
Live Scoring: GolfStat.com
Participating Teams (12)
- Florida International
- Grand Canyon
- New Mexico State
- Northern Arizona
- Sacramento State
- Sam Houston State
1. Kate Smith
2. Noor Ahmed
3. Vanessa Bouvet
4. Haley Thiele
5. Kirsten Baete
IND - Megan Whittaker
Smith Shoots for Third Straight Record-Setting Season as Husker
Junior Kate Smith is focused on improving on her back-to-back school-record stroke averages while making a return trip to NCAA Regional competition.Smith, who notched a then-school-record 73.90 average as a freshman on her way to a 2017 NCAA Regional bid, improved to a 73.66 stroke average as a sophomore but just missed a regional berth.
In 2017-18, Smith smashed a school record with her 14-under-par 202, which is seven strokes better than any other Husker has ever recorded. The previous mark of 209 was set by first-team All-American Sarah Sasse at the Ptarmigan Ram Fall Classic in September of 2002.
Smith’s effort at the 2018 Westbrook Spring Invite (Peoria, Ariz., Feb. 25-26), included a school-record eight-under-par 64 in the second round. Smith, who posted Nebraska’s top finish by taking 19th at the 2018 Big Ten Championships, owns three career Big Ten Golfer-of-the-Week awards, including two during the fall of 2017.
Smith owns 16 top-25 tournament finishes in her career, including her 11th top-10 performance in Nebraska’s last competition at the UNLV Collegiate Showdown, Oct. 21-23. Smith tied for eighth three a three-round total of 210 (71-68-71) in Las Vegas. Smith opened the season by tying for sixth with an even-par 216 at the Ptarmigan Ram Fall Classic in Colorado, Sept. 17-19.
She heads to Hawaii with a team-best 73.42 average through 12 rounds.She has fired 20 rounds better than par in her career, including a season-best second-round 68 at UNLV (Oct. 22). Smith owns a school-record 73.72 career stroke average over 72 rounds.
Bouvet, Baete Make Early Impact to Lead Big Red Freshmen
Vanessa Bouvet and Kirsten Baete have made major impacts for the Huskers while playing in their first collegiate tournaments to open 2018-19.
Bouvet (Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei) produced possibly the best performance by a Husker freshman in a career-opening event with her two-under-par 214 to tie for third individually in the 75-player field at the Ptarmigan Ram Fall Classic in Fort Collins, Colo., Sept. 17-19. Bouvet’s second-round 68 tied for the second-best round ever by a Nebraska freshman. Bouvet was tied for the tournament lead with two-time All-Big Sky golfer Tara Finigan with three holes to play.
“Vanessa is a power player with the length to be comfortable on any golf course,” Nebraska Coach Robin Krapfl said. “We also expect her to be an outstanding student and teammate who will have a chance to come in and compete for a spot in our lineup as a freshman. Her experience in growing up and playing golf around the world will be an added benefit to our entire team.”
Another powerful young player, Baete improved her scores significantly in all three rounds at the Ptarmigan Ram, including a two-over 74 in the final round. Baete (Beatrice, Neb.) matched Bouvet for the Huskers’ second-best individual score of the final round. Baete opened with a 75 at the Golfweek Conference Challenge (Sept. 24-26), then closed by tying her season best with a 74 in the final round on her way to a career-best 231 tournament total.
She tied that career best with another 231 at the UNLV Collegiate Showdown, including a career-best 73 in the final round (Oct. 23). Baete was the 2016 Nebraska Class B State High School Champion and enjoyed a strong redshirt season in 2017-18.
“Kirsten is coming off a redshirt season where she made big strides in her game,” Krapfl said. “It will be exciting to see what she can accomplish. She has the length to really put herself in great scoring situations. The next step is staying committed and confident under par. She can really help us this year when she starts seeing herself as the great talent we think she is.”
Adjustments Help Haley Thiele Improve Game for Junior Year
Haley Thiele battled the continuing effects of a wrist injury in 2017-18, after the injury kept her off the course as a redshirt in 2016-17. During the summer of 2018, Thiele made significant adjustments to her swing and began seeing the fruits of her labor during qualifying rounds for the Ptarmigan Ram Fall Classic. Thiele continued to see those improved results in Colorado, finishing in a tie for 35th (228) at the Ram Fall Classic. Thiele improved her scores (77-76-75) with each round at the season-opening tournament.
The improvement continued the following week back in Colorado at the Golfweek Conference Challenge (Sept. 24-26). Thiele led the Huskers with a three-round total of 219 to tie for 21st. Her effort included a season-best 69 in the final round.
Although Thiele may experience some ups and downs that go along with making major swing adjustments, she has the potential to return to the form she showed as one of the nation’s top junior players.Thiele produced one of the best freshman seasons in Nebraska history in 2015-16, notching a then-freshman school-record 75.63 stroke average. She also closed her rookie year as NU’s No. 2 finisher at the Big Ten Championships in 39th place. During the season, Thiele tied the Husker freshman record with a five-under-par 67 at the Las Vegas Collegiate Showdown while matching first-team All-American Sarah Sasse’s then-overall NU record with a 54-hole score of 209.
Sophomore Ahmed Shoots for Solid Second Season
Noor Ahmed (Folsom, Calif.) became a key player in Nebraska’s lineup as a true freshman in 2017-18. After battling her way into the lineup at times during the fall season, she became a fixture in the Huskers’ top five in the spring of 2018. She went on to post Nebraska’s No. 2 finish with her tie for 40th at the Big Ten Championships.
Ahmed enjoyed a career-best two-under-par 70 in the final round at the Westbrook Spring Invitational, Feb. 26. It was her first collegiate round better than par. She finished fourth among the Huskers with her 76.45 stroke average in 2017-18.
Ahmed joins Kate Smith as the only returning Huskers to compete in all 29 rounds for Nebraska in 2017-18. Ahmed was a member of the Husker lineup in all 15 rounds during the 2018 spring season, and she opened her sophomore year with lineup spots at the Ptarmigan Ram Fall Classic and the Golfweek Conference Challenge.
Ahmed, Smith Faces of the Big Ten
Noor Ahmed gained national exposure when she was featured by the Golf Channel for her courage while encountering discrimination. Ahmed is the first NCAA Division I golfer to compete while wearing a hijab - the traditional head covering worn in public by Muslim women.Ahmed and Husker teammate Kate Smith were featured together in the Golf Channel piece, and the good friends will be featured among the Faces of the Big Ten created by the Big Ten Network in 2018-19.
Hannah Thiele Hopes to Fight Pain to Contend for Spots
Hannah Thiele was one of the state of Nebraska’s top high school and junior golfers for four years at Wahoo Bishop Neumann before battling a back injury as a high school senior. The injury hampered her as a freshman at Nebraska, but she managed to compete for the Huskers and claimed Nebraska’s Big Ten Sportsmanship Award in 2018.
The 2015 and 2016 Nebraska Golf Association Girls’ Amateur of the Year, Thiele was the youngest player in history to win the Nebraska Women’s Stroke Play and Match Play tournaments, sweeping the titles in 2016 at age 18. Thiele also finished fourth at the 2016 Optimist International Junior Championship in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.
As a freshman in 2017-18, Thiele competed in 22 rounds and was one of six golfers to represent the Huskers at the 2018 Big Ten Championships.
“Hannah is kind of a wildcard,” Nebraska Coach Robin Krapfl said. “So much depends on how her back holds up, and whether she can regain the confidence and distance she had before the injury. She was making great progress in both areas before a setback this summer. We are not going to rush things, but we also know what she is capable of doing when she is on top of her game.”
Smith Continues Minnesota Connection
Kate Smith, a junior from Detroit Lakes, Minn., continues an outstanding tradition of top golfers from the state of Minnesota playing at Nebraska. Smith, who set Nebraska’s single-season stroke average record (73.66) for the second straight year in 2018, also qualified for the 2017 NCAA Central Regional.
Smith is the latest in a nearly continuous flow of Huskers from the Land of 10,000 Lakes. Cassie Deeg (Hugo, 2013-16), Steffi Neisen (New Prague, 2011-14), Chrissie McArdle (Eden Prairie, 2004-07) and Jackie Beste (2003-06) were all standout golfers for the Big Red. The 2018-19 season marks the ninth straight year Nebraska has had a Minnesota golfer in its lineup.
Smith is the only five-time individual state champion in Minnesota high school history. She capped her career by claiming a share of her record fifth title on June 15, 2016 while leading Detroit Lakes High School to its fourth state team championship in the past five years. She was also the winner of the 2016 Minnesota Ms. Golf Award.
Big Red Face Solid Schedule
The Huskers face another strong schedule in 2018-19, beginning with the Ptarmigan Ram Fall Classic in Fort Collins, Colo., Sept. 17-19. Nebraska continued play in Colorado at the Golfweek Conference Challenge in Vail, Colo., Sept. 24-26, before wrapping up a three-tournament Colorado road trip at the Ron Moore Intercollegiate in Highlands Ranch, Colo., Oct. 5-7.
The Huskers competed at the UNLV Collegiate Showdown in Boulder City, Nev., Oct. 21-23, before concluding the fall campaign with a visit to the Rainbow Wahine Invitational in Kapolei, Hawaii, Oct. 30-31.
The Big Red open the spring portion of their campaign at the Lady Puerto Rico Classic in Rio Grande, P.R., Feb. 10-12, before heading to the Westbrook Spring Invitational in Peoria, Ariz., Feb. 24-25. The Huskers return to Arizona for the Clover Cup in Mesa, Ariz., March 15-17, before closing the regular season at the Lady Buckeye Spring Invitational in Columbus, Ohio, April 13-14.
Nebraska returns to Maineville, Ohio, to compete at the Big Ten Championships, April 19-21, 2019. The Huskers will compete for the conference crown on the Arnold Palmer-designed Tournament Players Club River’s Bend Course, which will serve as the host to the conference tournament for the third straight season.
NCAA Regional competitions will be held in Auburn, Ala., Cle Elum, Wash., East Lansing, Mich., and Norman, Okla., May 6-8, before the NCAA Championships are held at The Blessings Golf Club in Fayetteville, Ark., May 17-22.
Huskers Set Pace in Classroom
Nebraska leads the nation with 333 CoSIDA Academic All-Americans and 17 NCAA Top 10 Award winners across all sports. Nebraska women’s golf leads the nation with 74 WGCA Scholastic All-Americans since 1989.
Current Huskers Haley Thiele (2016, 2018) and Hannah Thiele (2018) are the latest Huskers to claim spots on the WGCA’s prestigious academic team.
Five Huskers added academic All-Big Ten honors last season, led by returning Huskers Kate Smith and Haley Thiele, along with former NU golfers Emily Gillman, Audrey Judd and Annie Sritragul.